My adventures in homebrewing started with a bang and slowly fizzled – or quickly gushed.
My first batch – a Brooklyn Brew Shop IPA kit – was a success. My equipment was spanking new and therefore clean. It was a great day of brewing with my Brother in Law. The temperature in my house was just under 70, which was good for the US 05 yeast. We drank our IPA and patted ourselves on our backs. This homebrewing thing is easy.
Our second batch was a smoked wheat – which is not always available. Another fun brew day, but we ran in to problems quickly. We used a thinner mash, drank more while brewing, and the weather was warming up. I tried a lot of new techniques on this batch – like fermenting in a bucket of cold water – which makes it hard to pinpoint a single point of error. The beer was not bad, drinkable, but all the changes made me wonder if it was our fault it wasn’t delicious or if I just didn’t like the style. My BIL loved it, so I will chalked this batch up to my tastes, but in the back of my mind, I failed somewhere.
Three strikes and I was out. The third batch was a failure – all gushers. The brewing seemed to go much better – except I did try to do an infusion mash instead of just pouring over which resulted in a mess. We also topped off with tap water. It was the peak of summer and unbelievably hot – which was not good for fermentation. This was the first recipe not from a kit. I think the failure was primarily due to poor sanitation. I am lazy to wash my bottles after drinking, so they sit for months before I brew. I am also lazy to clean in general. I got lazy and sloppy and paid the price for it.
The third batch disappointed me. Not cleaning was the real problem but I blamed it on summer. I stopped brewing. I decided I needed a mash tun (cooler) and a wine fridge to convert to a fermentation chamber. Not wanting to spend the money, I never got back in to brewing.
It has been some time now since I brewed and I have been reading BYO and Zymurgy again. I am refocused. I know I don’t need any more equipment, but more dedication to cleaning. If I am going to do it, I need to stop cutting corners and go all in. I also need to brew beers like Saison in the summer when it is too hot to ferment anything else. I read an article the other day where the author said “if you’re like me you have experienced a batch ruined by infection.” This made me feel so much better. Yes, I slacked on cleaning. But. infection can hit even those who try their best to prevent it. It happens to the best of us, but way more frequently to the lazy of us.
I will stop being lazy and start getting my brew on!